Pioneer Missionary Training
I am so thankful I could attend PMT 2013 in Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico. My son Colby attended this mission as well, making it an even more incredible and rewarding time for me. God poured out His blessings in so many ways while we were in Mexico. Coming home with new perspectives and renewed spiritual vigor, I personally sense more awareness of God’s love and presence.
From the moment we arrived in Villahermosa, our hosts embraced us as if we were lifelong cherished friends and quickly made us feel at home.
The central goal of our mission was to learn the methods and practice of evangelism. What our brothers and sisters do to seek and save the lost — they get it! We spent time in the classroom learning what we have heard many times: the gospel message — the story of Jesus and how to share it. We can learn the same things here; we do not have to travel across the globe. However, when we left the classroom and hit the streets, we could see fears and inhibitions crumble. Because we were with those who engage others regularly, we held to their courage and soon gained strength to launch out on our own (with a translator). We answered the hard question “What am I willing to do for Jesus’ sake?”
Two “big ticket” items I pray we can adopt for ministry in our churches are door-to-door evangelism and family groups. Though we need to educate people on what technique should be for these, the most effective way to learn is to just get started. I am not suggesting we shouldn’t prepare, but we will be more successful as we engage — on-the-job-training, so to speak.
Finally, the most impacting thing for me was to witness the conditions our brothers and sisters live in. Though I say “living conditions” in reference to the whole, what I was exposed to the most was our host and church family. The household of faith that we are commanded to serve, bless, and love the most are included as the ones living in adverse conditions. They are accustomed to different circumstances of existence, but some of those circumstances are unhealthy, unsafe, and at the least burdensome. It is certain in my mind that many of us would just give up if we were constantly (more than a ten-day trip) living in these conditions. There seems to be an ever-present chaos. Water must be purchased, and traffic is, for the most part, ungoverned. I could go on, but I am sure you get the picture.
I am sold on PMT trips; they are a necessity. I have not shared great depth of details here — you have to go yourself to get the rest of the story. Or help someone who has been there, and just get started. You can learn and be a part without taking the trip yourself, but I recommend you go!
I share these things to say this important message: In all the chaos, in all the things that turned our eyes in uncomfortable concern, our brothers and sisters of like faith not only maintained but also excelled in their pursuit and witness for God. They are hungry for the Lord, and they desire their neighbor to catch the hunger as well. This testimony of Christlike living blessed my soul and at the same time convicted my heart.
I praise God for the valuable opportunity to visit Mexico with PMT. I would go again!
When 2013 ended, I found myself in a different place than ever before. It is a place, I am ashamed to say, that I should have been to long before. And although it has not been far away, it has taken me 45 years to get here. It is not a comfortable place, nor is it easy. However, I recognize that it is exactly where God wanted me to be all along. It is a place with no excuses, yet a place that offers peace and true purpose, where I can make an impact for eternity. He is calling me to step out of my comfort zone and make a difference. This is why He created me.
December 19-29, 2013, I attended our CoG7 PMT1 in Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico. Our focus was to understand and act upon the five mission principles derived from Matthew 22 and 28: 1) worship, 2) service, 3) fellowship, 4) evangelism, and 5) discipleship. Each one of these alone holds a wealth of information too great to include in this article. Each one impacts the next and fulfills our goal toward growing the kingdom of God. I will describe each one briefly.
We must start with worship. Worship needs to be expressed in all our thoughts and actions. It is living according to God’s will. Our thoughts, feelings, and actions should give praise to God. Worship is also when we need to bring the lost before the Lord in prayer and ask Him how He wants us to reach them. If we are mature Christians, we will be actively looking for sinners to lead to the Lord.
Service comes next. When we serve others, we open doors so they can see the light of Christ in our lives. Service can be as simple as giving someone a drink of water or as complex as changing someone’s tire. The options are endless. It is simply meeting people where they are. The Lord will provide ways for us to serve others in our church body and in the world. This is where we live out our faith and show others what we are really made of.
Next comes fellowship — spending time learning about each other. Now that we have connected in a meaningful way, we must spend time with these people. When this happens, they will begin to see our example and Christ in us. This will draw them to a life of freedom in Christ.
Evangelism is the step in which we present the gospel. Our goal is to bring people to the Lord. It is crucial that we talk about salvation and what Christ did on the cross for all of us. When others understand what this means for them and accept Christ in their lives, we can then move to the discipleship phase.
Discipleship is something a mature Christians will do the rest of their lives. We must commit to show and teach others about the Bible and life in Christ. What God has done in our lives is sufficient to encourage others to live for Christ. We should all be learning and growing until we reach the end of our days here on earth.
Our brothers and sisters in Villahermosa and surrounding areas are proficient in accomplishing these five aspects vital to mature Christian living. They are effectively living it out. We were blessed to join in their planning meetings and family groups for an evening. What a blessing to see firsthand all the particulars that make this ministry a success. It is my hope that you will read more about these details in the near future so you too can be involved in making this a reality in your life.
Many lessons were learned as we were plunged deeply into the rich Hispanic culture with our brethren in Villahermosa. For nine days we shared life with them as we slept in their homes, rode in their cars, and ate their delicious food. The experience has been priceless and eye opening. We attempted to serve and bless them on this mission trip, but the truth is that the blessings were all ours. Our brothers and sisters in Mexico are full of generosity, kindness, and the love of God.
This experience has been more than just a great mission trip: It has been a spiritual revival. I left Villahermosa with an overwhelming sense of peace, a heart overflowing with love, and a deep desire to reprioritize my life to imitate what I saw there. We need to make a difference. God has created us to make a difference while here on this earth. It should be our life mission. People desperately need the Lord. It’s time for me to get out of my comfort zone and out to where God’s presence is needed. Will you join me?
This year’s PMT1 trip was an amazing experience! God’s presence was felt every step of the way. We encountered several obstacles, but we overcame and learned from them.
Communication was a challenge, since only a few of us were bilingual, but God gave us the words and stamina to provide adequate translation. Despite the language barrier, I was amazed at the great relationships that were formed.
There was concern over the heavy rainfall and flooding in some areas. Thankfully, it didn’t last long and didn’t cause serious harm. We also had to adapt to cultural and lifestyle differences. I think overall, we all did so with a great attitude.
Our trainings focused on the five areas of ministry (evangelism, worship, service, discipleship, and fellowship). Many of us had to cast our fears aside and jump headfirst into assigned tasks, which included, among other things, door-to-door ministry, family groups, and public evangelism. These fears were quickly forgotten once we witnessed the great needs of the people we encountered.
We were all blown away by the wonderful manner in which our Villahermosa brethren treated us throughout our stay. Their kindness, patience, and generosity were truly overwhelming. We experienced the same kindness and openness from the majority people we met along the way. We were all reminded that even if things didn’t always go as planned, God was always in control. In the end, He led us down the best path!
So much happened in such a few days during the PMT trip.
First, thanks to God for helping us throughout the trip at Tabasco and for providing means to accomplish much more than what was on the agenda. I also thank the leaders, members of the church, and host families because they were all so welcoming.
What we learned from theory was beneficial. One of the brothers emphasized that the whole mission must be evident in our lives before we go teach it. I feel that we received a great dose of each part from the mission. I do feel that in practice they emphasized more on evangelism this time, like going door to door and approaching people outside hospitals and in a public places, but those were some of the most exciting activities. But before we went to practice what we learned, we asked God to use us in ways we never imagined. I know God definitely did. From the translators to the actors to the preachers, singers, and students, the Lord never left us alone.
This trip was unique for me. I left two days early because my dad had a stroke back in Texas. When I found out, we had just gotten back from ministering at a hospital. I was so devastated, but I thank God for the people He put in my path that night. They prayed with me and gave me strength through their words of wisdom. The day after I was touched when brother Monico gathered the team and mentioned that though we had been ministering to other people, “It is now our time to minister each other.” We prayed as a group and bonded so much more.
I praise God because He brought tranquility to my heart despite being apart from my family. I preached about a marvelous God to those people at the hospital at Villahermosa. Now here in Fort Worth, Texas, I am trusting Him.
Thanks to everyone who made this trip possible.
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